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by Michael Portantiere

Gayby, It's You!

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    One of the several excellent reasons why you should see Gayby, a new indie film written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki, is that most of the actors involved are young New York theater veterans. The two leading roles are played by Jenn Harris, acclaimed for her performance as Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in Silence! The Musical; and Matthew Wilkas, who's the Peter Parker understudy in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. As for the supporting cast, it boasts such familiar stage names and faces as Mike Doyle, Louis Cancelmi, and Adam Driver. I recently talked with Wilkas about the film, which opens for a run at Cinema Village in Manhattan on Friday, October 12.


    BROADWAYSTARS: Gayby has excellent buzz, Matthew. Was it written directly for the screen, or is it based on pre-existing material?

    MATTHEW WILKAS: Jonathan and Jenn and I had done it as a short, about 11 minutes long, in 2010. I think it played over 100 different festivals, and it got great reviews and awards. So we decided to make the feature because there was so much interest in it, and there were some producers already on board.

    STARS: Can you talk a little about the plot of the film for the benefit of our readers?

    MATTHEW: It's about two best friends, a man and a woman; he's gay, she's straight. They've known each other since college, but now they're both in their thirties and they feel their biological clocks ticking. They had made a pact years ago that they would have a baby together, so she comes to him and asks him if he wants to go through with it. He agrees, but she wants to do it the old fashioned way. That's where the comedy begins! We have a lot of awkward sex scenes. And it's all complicated by the fact that, while we're trying to conceive, we're both continuing to explore our separate sex lives.

    STARS: Sounds edgy. Are both of your characters coming off of relationships?

    MATTHEW: I'm coming off a relationship. She hasn't been in one for a long time.

    STARS: And Mike Doyle plays a new guy that you become interested in? And he has a kid?

    MATTHEW: That's right. My character works in a comic book store. It's funny, I have all these lines about Spider-Man. That was before I went into the show, and I don't think I really knew what I was talking about. But I know now!

    STARS: I guess you've probably known most everyone in the cast for some time.

    MATTHEW: Jenn and I actually did go to college together, at Boston University. I think we have great chemistry because of that. I've known Mike Doyle about 10 years now; we met at Williamstown. But I met Louis and Adam on the film.

    STARS: Jenn is so great in Silence! I'm sure you've seen it.

    MATTHEW: Yes. I was in it for a hot second, when it was playing at Theater 80. I went in for a week because they needed a vacation replacement for Jeff Hiller. Jenn is amazing in the show. It's a dream part for her.

    STARS: Even though Spider-Man is no longer front page news, I must ask you about that. How long have you been understudying? Were you in the show from the beginning?

    MATTHEW: No, I've been in it for about nine months now.

    STARS: Have you gone on as Peter Parker?

    MATTHEW: Yes, about six times. There's one alternate for Peter Parker, Matthew James Thomas, who does two shows a week. And there's one understudy, me.

    STARS: What role or roles do you play when you're not on as the lead?

    MATTHEW: I play Flash Thompson, the high school bully, and a couple of other characters.

    STARS: Well, it's steady work, right?

    MATTHEW: Yeah!

    STARS: Back to Gayby: What would you say is the main theme of the movie?

    MATTHEW: I think it's really about people living in New York who are -- not estranged from their families, but living apart from their families. So they create their own families. I can't reveal the ending, but it's sort of the whole "it takes a village" thing, about how there are going to be a LOT of people involved in this child's life. I'm very proud of the film.


    [For more information on Gayby, visit www.gaybyfilm.com]

    Published on Friday, October 12, 2012

    Michael Portantiere has more than 30 years' experience as an editor and writer for TheaterMania.com, InTHEATER magazine, and BACK STAGE. He has interviewed theater notables for NPR.org, PLAYBILL, STAGEBILL, and OPERA NEWS, and has written notes for several cast albums. Michael is co-author of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: BEHIND THE MYLAR CURTAIN, published in 2008 by Hal Leonard/Applause. Additionally, he is a professional photographer whose pictures have been published by THE NEW YORK TIMES, the DAILY NEWS, and several major websites. (Visit www.followspotphoto.com for more information.) He can be reached at [email protected]

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